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Dodgers sign Adam Kolarek to minor league contract

Sidearming LHP back with Los Angeles as a non-roster invitee in spring training

World Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Tampa Bay Rays - Game Four Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images

The Dodgers signed pitcher Adam Kolarek to a minor league contract, the team confirmed, bringing back the left-hander who pitched for Los Angeles in 2019-20.

The deal includes a non-roster invitation to spring training at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona.

Kolarek, who turns 34 in January, had a 4.58 ERA, 4.70 FIP, and 4.71 xERA in 15 games for the Oakland Athletics in 2022, with nine strikeouts and eight walks in 17⅔ innings before getting designated for assignment in June. He finished out the season in Triple-A Las Vegas, where he posted a 6.10 ERA in 37 games, with 39 strikeouts and 16 walks in 41⅓ innings. Kolarek elected free agency in October.

Keeping the ball on the ground is the game for Kolarek, whose 66.2-percent ground ball rate over the last four seasons ranks third-highest in the majors, behind only Aaron Bummer and Clay Holmes among pitchers with at least 100 innings.

The Dodgers acquired Kolarek at the trade deadline from the Rays in 2019, and he pitched in Los Angeles through the end of 2020, pitching in the postseason in both years. Kolarek with the Dodgers had a minuscule 0.88 ERA and 3.20 FIP in 46 games and 30⅔ innings, with 22 strikeouts and six walks. He also played one inning at first base and two innings in right field. It was a wild time.

The Dodgers traded Kolarek and minor league outfielder Cody Thomas to the A’s on the eve of spring training in 2021, in exchange for infielder Sheldon Neuse and pitcher Gus Varland. Neuse couldn’t stretch his time in Los Angeles beyond one season, and Varland was selected by Milwaukee in this year’s Rule 5 Draft, on December 7.

Kolarek has limited left-handed batters to just .190/.243/.260 in his six major league seasons. But the three-batter minimum rule that started in 2020 has hurt Kolarek, in that it’s harder to avoid facing right-handers, who in his career have hit .311/.393/.480 against him.

In the last two years with the A’s, Kolarek has pitched far more in Triple-A (74 games, 80 innings) than in the majors (27 games, 26⅔ innings).

He will likely vie for a bullpen spot on a Dodgers team that also has left-handed relievers Alex Vesia, Caleb Ferguson, Justin Bruihl, and Victor González on the 40-man roster. Should Kolarek eventually find his way back to the 40-man roster, he’s out of options.